DO YOU BELIEVE THE CARROT OR THE RABBIT? SULEIMAN KERIMOV TRIES TO SELL SHARES IN THE WORLD’S LARGEST UNMINED GOLDMINE, RUSSIA’S SUKHOI LOG

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

All that glisters isn’t gold. But as all Russian goldminers know, when it comes to the reputation of the mining company, its chief executive,  and its share price, glister will do just as well. That has been the view of Suleiman Kerimov (lead image, right) whose Polyus is Russia’s most important goldmining company.  

Glister has been Kerimov’s lucky colour; his longtime chief executive Pavel Grachev (left), the same. Through one of his children, Kerimov owns and controls Polyus.  Grachev does everything Kerimov senior has been telling him to do since 1998, twenty-two years ago.  Last month Kerimov senior told Kerimov junior to tell Grachev to start advertising Sukhoi Log (Russian for “Dry Gulch”), an underground store of gold in southeastern Siberia whose ownership has been fiercely fought over by international and Russian mining companies since 1992.

Unmined still, but firmly in Papa Kerimov’s possession, Sukhoi Log’s prospective value has more than doubled Polyus’s share price this year – and double the share price gain of Newmont of the US; triple that of Barrick of Canada, the international leaders of the gold world.  

But that’s on the Moscow stock market this year. Kerimov and Grachev are hoping Sukhoi Log will now draw US sharebuyers with an acceleration in annual gold production and  future, life of mine output which is also much faster than Newmont and Barrick.

Kerimov’s glister has always been mistaken for gold at the Financial Times,  so Grachev started his campaign there on October 22.   He then gave an expansive interview in Kommersant last Tuesday.

When we last reported on Grachev,  it was only to spell his name in the caption under an official photograph of the board of directors of Polyus Gold,  when it passed out of one pair of oligarch hands, Mikhail Prokhorov’s, into Kerimov’s. That was in 2014.  By then the market capitalisation was $9.5 billion,  down from its peak of $13 billion in December 2010. Renamed Polyus instead of Polyus Gold in 2016, this week the company is worth the rouble equivalent of $29 billion. Its share price on the Moscow Stock Exchange (MOEX, formerly MICEX) has jumped by 124% in the year to date.

The value of this goldminer has not always reflected the price of gold or the value of the gold reserves Polyus owns, mines, or is planning to mine. The company has often been calculated to be worth what the market thinks of Kerimov, Prokhorov, or before him another Russian oligarch, Vladimir Potanin. Grachev’s new job this week, as it has always been his job, is to rub the oligarch glister off the company, and turn its share price into true gold. As if Kerimov wasn’t there.  

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MALCOLM TURNBULL’S RUSSIA STORY – EX-PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA TRIES NEW COMEBACK WITH OLD BRAIN

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Malcolm Turnbull is the most intelligent man ever to become Australian prime minister, and to have left office more stupid than he began. Among the governments south of the Equator, this is without precedent. Since Turnbull served as head of government for only three years, 2015 to 2018, when he was 61 to 64 years of age, he has set the medical record for non-traumatic early-onset senescence in the cerebrum; that’s the part of the brain responsible for learning. He didn’t; he can’t.

This week Turnbull has published a book of selections from his life aimed at refreshing his credentials to retake the political power he lost to rivals. His display of the symptoms that caused him to lose it is undiminished.

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HIGH-STAKES GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK AT SULEIMAN KERIMOV’S VILLAS IN CAP D’ANTIBES

By John Helmer, Moscow

 The arrest and indictment of Suleiman Kerimov in Nice last week on charges of tax fraud and money laundering have begun loosening the tongues of international bankers and commodity trade financiers who have done business with Kerimov in the past, and who have been  guests at his Cap d’Antibes villa parties.

They say Kerimov’s wealth is illusory and exaggerated by the press, because his assets are heavily leveraged by bank loans which can be called in by material changes in borrower condition; Kerimov’s arrest may be one of them.

The sources also believe the money for Kerimov’s villa purchases in Cap d’Antibes, which are the target of the French prosecution, originated from Russian state banks.  “The international banks largely dropped Kerimov’s business after 2008 when the share value securing his borrowings collapsed, and he had to sell up,” comments a source who was involved in financing for Kerimov before the crash. “Since then he’s been a dependent of Sberbank.  The Sberbank officials knew he was high risk, and they treated him like a slave. Kerimov had to kiss their feet.”

Investigations in Nice, Moscow and Switzerland, where Kerimov’s asset holdings are managed, confirm that Kerimov’s chief creditors today are the state banks, Sberbank and VTB, run by German Gref and Andrei Kostin. A smaller line of credit has been extended by a third state lender, Gazprombank. The international bankers say they don’t know whether Russian state bankers are also beneficiaries of the villas at Cap d’Antibes.

In Moscow there is nervousness over what Kerimov’s telephone conversations, tapped by  French prosecutors, have revealed already; and what he will admit under interrogation about who may be the owners of the real estate, if not himself.   An international bank source believes the real villa owners aren’t Russian bankers. “They don’t like people like Kerimov,” the source says. “Certainly not [Sberbank chief executive German] Gref and [VTB chief executive Andrei] Kostin. They are independently rich; they don’t need guys like Kerimov. They would not put themselves into Kerimov’s hands. These houses are never worth what the papers are reporting but they are all Kerimov’s stuff.  That’s been his business style. He buys assets in bagloads – bank shares, commodities, real estate. But now the market has turned like it did for his other assets. You can’t sell a house on the Cote d’Azur at the price Kerimov paid. His business is show business. That’s caught up with him now.” (more…)

CANADIAN DRAGON VERSUS RUSSIAN RAIDER – ALEXEI MORDASHOV MEETS HIS MATCH AT COLUMBUS GOLD, OR VICE VERSA

By John Helmer, Moscow

For the first time Canadian mine stock investors say that Russian mining and metals oligarch Alexei Mordashov has run into resistance to his takeover schemes by a combination of share dilution, insider rewards,  and share price manipulation —  tactics which  have succeeded for Mordashov when he acquired the last three Canadian goldminers he took aim at.  

Speaking of the takeover now under way by Mordashov’s London-listed Nordgold for Toronto-listed Columbus Gold, shareholders, analysts, insiders and stock promoters have been discussing on the Canadian Stockhouse bulletin board  what they expect to happen next. A small stakeholder told others on the bullboard in December: “Can’t see any reason Nord does not move quickly on [Columbus Gold]  as it will only get more expensive.”  A few days later, Brien Lundin, a gold stockpicker in the US,  advised his clients to take advantage of the Russian interest:  “I urge you to take advantage of any market-induced weakness to buy the company in advance of the feasibility study.”  Another bullboard entry warned on February 9: “Pretty obvious they’re going to take us out, put those 5 million Z’s [gold reserves] in their portfolio, and continue on with their growth plan. We’re the proverbial low hanging fruit, it’s now just a matter of price.”

The next day another commentator warned: “As for [Columbus Gold].. NORD has never failed to follow through on eventually taking over a company in which they have picked up a notable minority stake.” He drew the response:  “NORD would definitely like to steal it but they won’t be able to because too many other buyers want it also. So NORD may decide to sell instead at a premium and take their marbles somewhere else where they can get a better deal.” 

The Canadian consensus is that Mordashov is making a raid on Columbus Gold. “What I think we have to watch for is if they low ball us like they don’t want any partners, putz around for a year or so, then sell the whole shooting match to one of the above for a $ billion or better, screwing us out of our fair share. Got to keep a close eye on those Russians…” (more…)

ANOTHER FAKE PRIVATIZATION, ANOTHER LOAN FOR SHARES — SUKHOI LOG, THE BIGGEST GOLDMINE LICENCE IN RUSSIA, GIVEN TO SERGEI CHEMEZOV AND SULEIMAN KERIMOV

 

By John Helmer, Moscow

Gold reserves are handy in wartime, especially when your enemies are the United States Government and the US dollar banking system operating worldwide.  

So, since the war to overthrow President Vladimir Putin began in 2014, the Central Bank of Russia has accelerated its purchases of gold bullion by more than double, becoming the largest gold buyer among the world’s central banks, and the holder of the sixth largest gold reserve.  Roughly half the volume of this gold has been bought by the Central Bank from Russian goldmines.

Putin has also decided to start digging out Sukhoi Log, in Irkutsk region. That’s the largest unmined gold deposit in Russia, and one of the biggest proven reserves of mineable gold in the world.

For the past quarter of a century, the Kremlin has been unwilling to decide who, if anybody, will be permitted to mine Sukhoi Log.  That decision was finally made last week, when Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev confirmed the award of the licence to mine Sukhoi Log to a special purpose company formed by Russian Technologies (Rostec, Ростех,  RT) and Polyus Gold. Together, they are paying Rb9.406 billion (about $162 million) for the licence.  “According to the Governmental order affirming the results of the auction, SL Gold Limited Liability Company…, a company established by JSC Polyus and LLC RT Business Development [Rostec], will be granted the right to develop Sukhoi Log for the exploration works and extraction of gold and silver…Subject to obtaining the license, the Company intends to conduct additional exploration works and a feasibility study, which is expected to last for approximately three to four years, supported by international mining and engineering consultants. Based on the results of that study, the Company will evaluate options to initiate construction activities at the Sukhoi Log.”

What this means is that Rostec and Polyus Gold are promising to take up to four years to re-read the mountain of geological, metallurgical and engineering studies, reports and plans compiled on Sukhoi Log for 25 years  by every major Russian and international mine consultancy, including the leading goldminers of Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the UK. Then, when the re-reading is done, Rostec and Polyus Gold aren’t promising to produce any gold at all. On this undertaking, they have borrowed state bank cash in order to pay the state budget a licence fee. This looks like a privatization, but it is a phantom. (more…)

ALEXEI MORDASHOV PREPARES $400 MILLION DOLLAR TAKEOVER OF CANADIAN GOLDMINER – HIT AND RUN FOR KREMLIN FOREIGN INVESTMENT BAN

By John Helmer, Moscow

Alexei Mordashov (lead image, top left), the mining and metals oligarch, promised President Vladimir Putin (centre) that in future he would stick to investing in Russia. “We did a great deal of work abroad,” he told  the President, “but came to the conclusion that our future lies primarily in Russia, in the Russian market, and our production here is most efficient. We sold the North American division and are focusing almost entirely on our Russian assets.” That was on January 19, 2015.

Mordashov was back in front of Putin at the Kremlin this week, telling him on December 19: “I would also like to ask you not to reduce the level of your cooperation.”  What Mordashov didn’t tell Putin was how much he has invested in Canadian goldmining over the past year, and how much more, according to Russian and Canadian sources,  he is planning to invest next year. That may come to $400 million if a gold prospect in French Guiana, owned by a Canadian mining company, turns out to be El Dorado when a report Mordashov is preparing on the exploration results and gold value is due to be released next March.  (more…)

THIS IS MOSCOW CALLING! PARDON THE INTERRUPTION

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By John Helmer, Moscow

If you can read this, you missed an attack on this website. It started, coincidentally, when the Moscow office day commenced. The general commanding our rocket forces forbids us to reveal  the method of attack and  how it was intercepted and zapped, restoring our coverage of stories like this one on Alexei Mordashov’s takeover of the goldminer Northquest. Click

Not that he and Nordgold would have anything to do with this morning’s attack on our website. But if  he and the Nordgold raiders try to attack Toronto-listed Columbus Gold, their next target according to a leading Canadian gold market source, we are ready.  “The Canadian rules need to change,” the source recommends, “so that the resisting minority shareholders get to put forward their own third-party valuation as a comparison to the one done by the newly formed Board of the acquirer.  This would at least give a high and low valuation which could be subject to mediation.”

GOLDFINGER, LIGHT FINGER — ALEXEI MORDASHOV TAKES ANOTHER CANADIAN GOLDMINE ON THE CHEAP

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By John Helmer, Moscow

In the criminal fraternity it’s believed that light fingers are a juvenile condition it’s best for the practicioner to grow out of when more serious property transfers are in contemplation.

Alexei Mordashov (lead image, right), the Russian steelmaker and goldminer, is a quick learner and a grown-up. With a net worth currently estimated at over $15 billion from Severstal, Nordgold, and other Russian businesses, his record of asset buying has more often been one of paying too much, and losing money, especially in the US. Last month, however, in litigation in Ontario, Canada, he was charged by shareholders of the gold prospector Northquest Limited,   with manipulation of the company’s executives and board in order to take over the company’s gold for a steal.

The resisting shareholders who took their case to the Ontario Superior Court, are veteran geologists with three decades of experience of gold deposits in the Nunavut territory of  northeastern Canada,  which are Mordashov’s target.  The resisters claim Mordashov’s goldmine holding Nordgold  has taken over Northquest at a fraction of its real value.  “In our view,” Brian Randa, one of the dissenting shareholders, told the court in October, according to the court records, “the valuation  [of Northquest’s gold prospects] is not worth the paper it is written on. They [Nordgold]  mispresented the true potential of this project by comparing the project to those with much less potential [in gold resources],  and by  excluding from consideration a vast tract of the licence area.  They tricked the shareholders into tendering [their shares at a low price].  The timing of this series of events was deliberately made to happen before the astonishing major Howitzer anomaly was further explored in the summer of 2016.”

Low-balling is a takeover tactic Nordgold has been accused of by Canadian goldmine shareholders at High River Gold and Crew Gold for many years.  Mordashov won those battles; for details, read this and this. In those cases, resisting shareholders claimed the light fingers went into Mordashov’s pockets. The Canadian courts and the Ontario regulator didn’t agree. (more…)

THE BLUE SKY POTENTIAL OF CHUKOTKA — WHY IS STATE MONEY BEING WAGERED ON TIGERS REALM COAL?

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Tiger is an unlucky brand-name for Russian investment. The record of Mikhail Prokhorov and Maxim Finsky in trying, and failing three times over to sell shares in White Tiger Gold on the Toronto Stock Exchange explains. So why is the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a state development bank, betting on a small Australian-listed coking coal company in Chukotka called Tigers Realm Coal?

The feareasternmost province of Russia, Chukotka makes a good case for ample underground resources to be mined, so long as costs of digging and shipping to China stay low; and demand recovers. Perish the thought that Tigers Realm Coal is an insider manipulation with the aim of pumping the share price, then dumping the project by several names associated with such scheming in the past.
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WHERE TO GO WHEN PETER HAMBRO AND PAVEL MASLOVSKY RUN OUT OF CASH? PETROPAVLOVSK BEGS FOR RUSSIAN STATE BANK BAILOUT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Petropavlovsk Plc has almost run out of tricks.

Advertisements placed at the start of this month in the London papers that the goldminer may be on the receiving end of a Russian-funded bailout lifted the London Stock Exchange share price for less than 24 hours. The market capitalization has since continued on its trajectory towards worthlessness. Kirill Androsov of Altera Capital, the door-opener for a fresh Sberbank financing, is refusing to say which way the door is swinging. According to a leading London mine financier, “Petropavlovsk’s assets just don’t have any value. Low grade and tough metallurgy. Gentle euthanasia is the best option.”
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POLYUS GOLD AND THE DUMB MONEY EFFECT – HOW SULEIMAN KERIMOV PROVES HE’S DUMBER THAN MIKHAIL PROKHOROV

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By John Helmer, Moscow

It can be no surprise, not even to Russian dunces, that Suleiman Kerimov, the only Russian oligarch and senator of the Russian parliament who has never answered a question in public, has been trying to cash out of Polyus Gold, and can find no takers. Especially not at the current price of gold.

Why then would Polyus Gold report this week that it has discovered that Natalka, in Magadan, the largest new goldmining project in Russia, has vastly less gold in reserve and resource than it has revealed to shareholders before? Why reveal that the loss of future gold sale revenues just announced would be worth $52 billion at the current gold price?

Answer: having no alternative to recover his capital from Polyus Gold by selling out, Kerimov is sacrificing market capitalization of his company stake, and by halting the expenditure of cash on the Natalka mine, Kerimov has decided to put the money into his own pocket as dividends.
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PROKHOROV SLIPS THE TORONTO STOCK EXCHANGE A MICKEY FINN, ER, MAKE THAT A MAXIE FINN

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By John Helmer, Moscow

It was a specialty of the Chicago Irish at the turn of the 20th century. A Mickey Finn was a drug that was slipped into your cocktail without your knowing, in order to incapacitate you. When you came to, the only thing you knew was that you were missing your valuables. The eponymous Mickey Finn was a pickpocket who built his capital into a thriving business as the proprietor of the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden on the corner of Dearborn and Harrison Streets. (It’s a Starbucks nowadays. The girls Mickey used as lures now drink skinny lattes.)

Maxie Finn, aka Maxim Finsky (left front), is eponymous too. He is a childhood friend of Mikhail Prokhorov (left back), and he has been employed by him to buy assets on the cheap; consolidate them into special purpose vehicles which the two of them then try to resell. They’ve had one signal success. That was when Prokhorov jointly controlled Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s largest mining company, with Vladimir Potanin. Finsky was employed to spend Norilsk Nickel’s money on buying goldmining assets at premium prices before they were spun off and separately listed as Polyus Gold. Finsky spent foolishly, or worse, read this. But no matter. The rise of the price of gold drove the share price of Polyus Gold ten times and more above the amount paid for its assets. For the ups and downs in that decade-long story, read here.
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THE MAN IN THE MOON – MIKHAIL PROKHOROV’S INTERGEO FAILS IN TORONTO FOR THE SECOND TIME

By John Helmer, Moscow

At a physicists’ teaparty, Albert Einstein once asked Niels Bohr whether the two of them should accept that “the moon does not exist if nobody is looking at it.” Bohr’s reply was that, hard as Einstein might try, so long as the moon was accompanied by noone, Einstein’s proof would be hard to come by.

As a businessman selling off visible assets for cash in the bank, Mikhail Prokhorov is rapidly becoming just such an unprovable moon. So Einstein to Bohr, he’s agreed with his trusted friend and manager, Dmitry Razumov, managing director of the Onexim holding in Moscow, to issue a public strategy statement and give the former’s lunacy more credibility. According to Razumov, the two of them speak once every two or three weeks, depending on Prokhorov’s phases. “He is completely away from the daily management of work items. He did not meet with the management; he isn’t included in the [Onexim] board of directors. However, he is still the main beneficiary. We are meeting relatively regularly to discuss politics and the economy.” Based on paper values, and before counting the impact of commodity price falls, Razumov says Onexim is worth between $13 billion and $15 billion. Here is the April 24 interview.
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WHITE TIGER GOLD – MINIMUM FOR MAXIM, FIN DE FINSKY

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oligarch ownership hasn’t given Russian goldmines a good name, or at least not a stable one. So if you take the 5-year view and judge that the gold price has peaked, while the cost of developing new mines is going up, the grades going down, you don’t need to be an oligarch with a short attention span like Mikhail Prokhorov, to figure out that the prudent investment direction is the exit.

When Prokhorov sold his 37.78% stake in Polyus Gold last month for $3.6 billion, his Onexim holding announced: “in light of …our view of the balance between the company’s achievements and its potential, we made the decision that the time had come for Onexim Group to sell and realize its profit.” On the 5-year view there have value peaks on paper, but ultimately no profit. Prokhorov has also failed to find an international goldminer willing to buy the assets. As Russian dealmaking goes, selling to Suleiman Kerimov, or to his stand-ins, as Prokhorov has announced, is a nothing more than a state bank bailout.
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CONCERT-PARTY TAKEOVER OF POLYUS GOLD AND POLYMETAL – THE MORE SILENT ZELIMKHAN MUTSOEV AND GAVRIIL YUSHVAEV REMAIN ON THE PURCHASE PRICE, THE MORE OBVIOUS THEY ARE IN LEAGUE WITH SULEIMAN KERIMOV

By John Helmer, Moscow

Do snaps of businessmen playing cards, or dancing the lezginka together, prove they are in a concert-party relationship which is an unauthorized way of making money, according to Rule 9 of the Takeover Code for companies listed on the London Stock Exchange — if they keep it secret from other shareholders?

Zelimkhan Mutsoev (left and centre, upper and lower images), Gavriil Yushvaev (right, right) and Suleiman Kerimov (centre, left) were all born in the Caucasus within a decade of each other. As grown-ups they have taken different career paths, and they have made large sums of money independently. Two of them, Mutsoev and Kerimov, have also acted together to take over Russia’s second potash producer Silvinit, merge it with the leader Uralkali, and create a Russian potash monopoly. The Federal Antimonopoly Service found no infraction of Russian rules in that. But if they are now trying the same thing to acquire Mikhail Prokhorov’s 38% stake in Polyus Gold, Russia’s leading goldminer, and then merge it with Polymetal, the UK rules apply because both Polyus Gold and Polymetal are premium listings on the LSE.
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ALEXEI MORDASHOV TAKES HIGH RIVER GOLD BECAUSE THE ODOUR OF MONEY IS SWEETER THAN NORD GOLD SHARES

By John Helmer, Moscow

It has taken Alexei Mordashov (image lower right) three and a half years to persuade shareholders of Toronto-listed High River Gold (HRG) to accept his takeover of the company. That’s the longest foreign defence against a Russian takeover in the oligarch record-book. But when the count was completed on December 11, Mordashov’s victory was still a close-run thing. What has happened is that most of the holdout shareholders opted to take cash for their shares, and abandon the business, rather than accept a swap of their HRG shares for shares of Mordashov’s larger goldmine holding, London-listed Nord Gold.

Mordashov has the company he wanted, but not with a vote of confidence in his or his goldmining future. In the process, not a single Canadian court, Canadian stock market regulator, nor even a Canadian newspaper reporter took the side of the minority shareholders. They have included Sprott Asset Management, one of Canada’s leading independent fund managers; according to its latest performance sheet, its investments in gold and precious metals stocks have been bleeding red for the year to date, the full year, and indeed for the past three years.
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YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE… ALEXEI MORDASHOV’S TAKEOVER OF HIGH RIVER GOLD STOPS SHORT

By John Helmer, Moscow

The deadline for Canadian shareholders to accept or reject Alexei Mordashov’s takeover terms for High River Gold (HRG) is fixed for next Tuesday, November 27. The latest count to be released to the market suggests he will fail because the holdout shareholders are convinced the offer price is too low. The price point isn’t news. The shareholder count may be.

According to Chris Charlwood, one of the coordinators of the HRG minorities, “we have collected confirmations from shareholders with approximately 90.2 million shares (10.73% of total HRG shares and 43% of the minorities rremaining) that they will not tender to Nord Gold’s offer. This includes shares owned in funds managed by Eric Sprott (HRG’s largest minority shareholder). Nord Gold would have needed 90% of minority to tender to the current offer in order to squeeze the rest out. With 43% of the minority indicating they will not tender, this should prevent this from happening on the Nov. 27th expiry date.”
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PATSY’S GOT BALLS — MORDASHOV TO PULL HIS PRICE FOR HIGH RIVER GOLD UPWARD, OR POCKET HIS OFFER ALTOGETHER

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Canadian valuer hired to provide an independent valuation of High River Gold (HRG) for Nord Gold’s takeover offer appears to be recommending a higher price than Alexei Mordashov, owner of Nord Gold and 75% shareholder of HRG, wants to pay, leaving the takeover in limbo.

Paradigm Capital’s research department, headed by Daniel Kim of Toronto, has been working on the valuation since July, when Nord Gold announced a share swap or cash purchase equivalent to C$1.40 per share of HRG. That valued HRG at C$1.18 billion. To consolidate the minority shareholders, and absorb HRG entirely into Nord Gold – with the aim of lifting the latter’s struggling share price and worsening financial performance– Mordashov with 75% of the HRG shares in hand needs to have his bid accepted by another 15%. If he can reach or cross the 90% stake threshold, under Canadian takeover rules the remaining shareholders can be squeezed out by a mandatory buyout. As told in this sequence, the opposition to Mordashov has been successful so far in denying him the prize.
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NORD GOLD HIDES IN PLAIN SIGHT FROM HIGH RIVER GOLD

By John Helmer, Moscow

It takes a Russian to know how to build a Potemkin village, and hide behind it. It takes Alexei Mordashov to answer questions through a telephone number that rings in Amsterdam only to be relayed to a Moscow office, where the person in charge hangs up the receiver. That’s a false front that doesn’t deserve Count Potemkin’s name tag.

Mordashov is the owner of Nord Gold, the struggling goldminer spun out of the Severstal steel group. Since July 18, Nord Gold has been tabling an offer to buy out the minority shareholders of Toronto-listed High River Gold (HRG), the richest of the assets in the Nord Gold portfolio. Tabling isn’t quite what has happened. That’s because there won’t be an official offer to buy the remaining HRG shares until a purportedly independent valuation of HRG is completed and the share price offer put into a circular. That is a paper which Mordashov is promising to despatch to the hold-out HRG shareholders sometime soon. For the July 18 proposal, and the reaction of the market, read this.
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WHEN THE CASH COW IS KICKING THE BUCKET, OLIGARCHS LOSE THEIR LIQUIDITY – HOW BROKE IS SULEIMAN KERIMOV?

By John Helmer, Moscow

Swiss bankers aren’t famous for their sense of humour. So it will come as no surprise that the Gnomes of Zurich were serious when they recently sent a questionnaire to 22 of the richest crooks and liars in Russia, asking them for their assessment of the prospects for Russian wealth management — and printed their answers with a straight face. According to UBS, 55% of their 22-person sample say corruption is the biggest problem they currently have in increasing (or keeping) their wealth; well ahead of macro-economic problems like falling demand; global problems like the collapse of commodity prices and producer share prices; and domestic commercial problems like the weakening rouble, rising costs, and dwindling bank credit.

The twenty-two made the UBS sample if they were domiciled in Russia and admitted to a net worth of at least $50 million apiece. One in 10 of the sample (that’s two) “belong to families worth between $250 million and $500 million, with one family worth in excess of half a billion dollars.” Of the remaining 20, 13 reported a family fortune of between $50 million and $100 million. Three put themselves in the wealth bracket between $100 million and $250 million. Richer crooks and liars may have returned the UBS questionnaire unanswered. But those responding acknowledged that when it comes to running their businesses and making money, they don’t give a fig for accountability, transparency, or the conventional standards of corporate governance. According to the report, “the percentage of respondents adhering to a corporate governance code has fallen substantially to just 23% [five]. Of the remainder, 41% say they are in the process of implementing a code, but 36% simply state that they do not comply with any corporate governance code.”
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THE CANADIAN RESISTANCE AT HIGH RIVER GOLD PUSHES BACK AT ALEXEI MORDASHOV

By John Helmer, Moscow

There is a unique protection in the Ontario Business Corporations Act which may have Alexei Mordashov’s name written all over it. It’s called the oppression remedy.

What this does is to allow minority shareholders to go to court to challenge the votes and decisions of majority or control shareholders in a Canadian company, when the latter act in a way that is prejudicial, disadvantageous, or unfair to the former. The evidence and standard of unfairness can be decided by a court-ordered investigation of the company’s affairs and of the “reasonable expectations” of the shareholders. Such an investigation is the first thing a Canadian judge can do, before ruling on unfairness. What’s more, an applicant shareholder needs to convince the investigators, not of evidence of fraud or dishonesty, but of the “appearance” that the board of directors, control shareholders, or company management “unfairly disregard” the interests of the minority.
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LOCK-UP OR STICK-UP – ALEXEI MORDASHOV TRIES TO FINISH OFF THE CANADIAN RESISTANCE

By John Helmer, Moscow

You don’t have to be Mr Plod to suspect that Noddy isn’t playing fair.

More than half the Canadians who hold shares in High River Gold (HRG:CN), and who have resisted Alexei Mordashov’s buyout offers in the past, think he’s low-balling them again. Having driven up the share price to C$1.43, three cents over Mordashov’s latest offer price for his takeover of HRG, the sentiment in the share market is against Mordashov. Or is it?

On July 18 Nordgold (NORD:LI), which already owns about 75% of HRG, announced that it wants to buy the rest. Nordgold is listed on the London Stock Exchange; HRG on the Toronto Exchange. The former has a market capitalization of US$1.71 billion after listing in Moscow and London between December 2011 and January 2012. Since then it has lost more than 60% of its value.
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ABRAMOVICH DOES IT AGAIN: TAKES $69 MILLION IN PUBLIC SHAREHOLDER MONEY FOR ONE OF HIS POCKET ASSETS — NUMIS SECURITIES LEADS THE CHEERS

By John Helmer, Moscow

What an enterprising lad! While Highland Gold, a London-listed public stockholding company, was looking in a forward direction, last Friday Roman Abramovich sold it a gold and silver prospect called Klen for the greater part of which he had paid $103,774 eighteen months earlier. Abramovich has now relieved Highland Gold of $69 million of its hard-earned money for this exchange. In the interval, since Abramovich spent peanuts on prospecting , his rate of return was 34% per month, 610% overall.

This, at least, is one arithmetic of what has happened. Abramovich’s spokesman, John Mann, says there is another truer one, although one of the crucial numbers in that calculation is missing. Highland Gold’s spokesman, Dmitry Yakushkin, isn’t providing that number. Nor is he explaining how Highland Gold counts the reserves and resources which Abramovich has just sold it.
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INTERGEO TRIES SPELL-BINDING, SPELL-CHECK AND OTHER MAGIC TRICKS, AS MAXIM FINSKY DEFAULTS ON $75 MILLION OF DEUTSCHE BANK OBLIGATIONS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Not even the epitome of Canadian accountability and compliance, Dudley Do-Right, can remember a case when a man who has just defaulted on bank obligations of almost $75 million been allowed to sell promissory notes on his next adventure on the Toronto Stock Exchange. If Dudley is mistaken, and if Maxim Finsky succeeds in launching the Intergeo initial public offering, the market magic spellbinder who will deserve the credit is Corey Copeland (image).

That’s not a dunce’s hat on his head. With degrees from the University of Toronto and Harvard University, Copeland has been the spokesman for large metal and mining companies in the past, like Alcan, Rio Tinto, and Billiton. As reported here, Copeland is the front man for the Intergeo preliminary prospectus issued to the Toronto market on May 14. Company documents say that for his expertise, Intergeo is paying Copeland salary and perks this year of C$522,189. That includes a bonus for his good works last year of C$94,000. If the Intergeo shares make it to market in a few days’ time, he will also be entitled to share options at the IPO price for 0.15% of the total share issue.
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MAXIM FINSKY’S WHITE TIGER GOLD COLLAPSES — BULL TRAP OR CLAP TRAP?

By John Helmer, Moscow

White Tiger Gold (WTG) was supposed to be the curtain-raiser on the Canadian stock market for Mikhail Prokhorov and Maxim Finsky, his childhood playmate, to sell shares in their collection of little known gold and other mineral prospects and mining licences in Russia. That collection is called Intergeo, and it cost Prokhorov and Finsky play money.

At one time, Prokhorov’s former shareholding partner in Norilsk Nickel, Vladimir Potanin, accused him and Finsky of filling Intergeo with stolen goods—licences originally acquired for Norilsk Nickel and with the latter’s money. That case never went to court because Prokhorov and Potanin managed to settle between themselves which side each would get out of the bed they had shared together. Finsky got out too on Prokhorov’s side, and became boss of Intergeo.
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NO-RISK LOVEMAKING WHEN MORGAN STANLEY PROSTRATES ITSELF TO ALEXEI MORDASHOV

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the memoirs of the great courtesans, much fondness is expressed toward the size of their patrons’ pockets, but never the size (or lack of it) of their male members. Morgan Stanley lacks that kind of discretion.

If you read the report issued on February 17 by the investment bank’s Moscow and London branches on Alexei Mordashov’s Nord Gold, the place to start is below the waist, as it were. “In the next 3 months,” runs the small print of the required US regulatory disclosures, “Morgan Stanley expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from…Nordgold…Within the last 12 months, Morgan Stanley has provided or is providing investment banking services to, or has an investment banking client relationship with …Nordgold…Within the last 12 months, Morgan Stanley has either provided or is providing non-investment banking, securities-related services to and/or in the past has entered into an agreement to provide services or has a client relationship with… Nordgold.
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THIS MAN IS BAD FOR MIKHAIL PROKHOROV’S HEALTH — THE CHINA GOLD STANDARD HAS BECOME HIGH-RISK FOR RUSSIAN GOLDMINER SHARE PRICES

By John Helmer, Moscow

The future for Russian goldmining companies this year is bleak — even if the price of gold goes up.

The major Russian goldminers are all expected to fail to reach their mine output targets, so they will be able to sell less gold at what are expected to be higher costs. But there’s worse. In order to qualify for listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), Polyus Gold — the property at present of Mikhail Prokhorov and Suleiman Kerimov and Russia’s leading goldminer — will have to sell their shares. This isn’t the first occasion in which those two have felled the share price by signalling their desire to sell.
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ROTHSCHILD EXPOSES GOLDMINING DEAL FOR FAKE OR FEINT; DERIPASKA’S ATTEMPT TO SELL RUSAL TO ALCOA ALSO EXPOSED

By John Helmer, Moscow

Nathaniel Rothschild’s (centre) libel lawsuit against the Daily Mail and Associated Newspapers, due to commence on January 23 in the High Court in London, is now unravelling even more Russian oligarch secrets. As they crack open, so do suspicions of even more inexplicable involvement by Rothschild’s friend, Lord Peter Mandelson, than the lawsuit was intended to stop.

The point on which the entire tale hangs, at least for Rothschild, is that in January 2005, Mandelson was the European Union’s trade commissioner. The events reported by the newspaper in its initial publication, and now in new evidence before the court, suggest that Mandelson was involving himself in Russian business deals which he knew, or should have known, created the appearance of a conflict of interest with his official position.
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MORDASHOV IS JOHNNY APPLESEED, LENDS HIMSELF MONEY, SWAPS SHARES WITH HIMSELF – HIGH RIVER GOLD MINORITIES ASK YUKON REGULATOR TO INVESTIGATE SUCH GENEROSITY

By John Helmer, Moscow

In American legend, Johnny Appleseed is the epitome of self-sacrificing kindness and charity to his fellow man. But he didn’t exactly give away his apple seeds. Johnny was a professional nurseryman – he gave seeds to friends and neighbours for planting in nurseries. The concessionaires and stakeholders then sold the trees and apples for commerce; Johnny kept the land. When he died in 1845, he was reputed to have accumulated an estate of more than 1,200 acres, not counting titles to land he’d forgotten about or lost. When the apple business went bust, Johnny stayed rich; his stakeholders weren’t so fortunate.
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WHEN IS A FREE FLOAT A TOY BALLOON – POLYMETAL’S CONTROL SHAREHOLDERS PREPARE TO LET GO

By John Helmer, Moscow

Let’s hear it for Polymetal’s control shareholders – they have devised a scheme that appears to have fooled much of the Moscow market, but few in the London market. By moving Polymetal to the main board of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), they have camouflaged a free floating share bloc which isn’t, in order to create a better share-price platform to sell out. And that is what is known in the toy balloon business as a prick.
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CANADIAN JUDGE RULES THAT MORDASHOV WAS EVASIVE, GRANTS NORWEGIAN SHAREHOLDERS RIGHT TO NEGOTIATE INCREASE IN CREW GOLD BUYOUT PRICE

By John Helmer, Moscow

A Canadian Supreme Court judge has ruled that Alexei Mordashov rode roughshod over the rights of minority shareholders in Crew Gold, when Mordashov’s gold group completed its takeover of Crew Gold, and paid $4.65 per share to buy up minority shareholders.

Justice Ronald Veale, the senior judge of the Supreme Court of Yukon, the Canadian province where Nord Gold, the Canadian vehicle used to absorb Crew Gold is registered, issued a judgement on October 14. He ruled that a group of Norwegian minority shareholders, led by Jostein Matre, had been unfairly and improperly deprived of their rights to dissent from the buy-out offer.
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RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.

In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration:  “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”

By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”

 To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.

A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”

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IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour  of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.

Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.”    Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the  6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.    

Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected,   Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.  

The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.

Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.

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THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the  Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving  grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world.  Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.  

The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery  now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.

Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.”  Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.

Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”

The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire,  the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.  

In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010.  The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”

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IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month  to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders,  knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.   

Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.

In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”  

This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention.  In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.  

Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials,  to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO  hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.

“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”.  He means the Ukraine border is the red line.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.

US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11   highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.

Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.

The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other.  Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilification of society.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them.  It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.

When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.

While his wife and the Navy officer  who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion,  or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.  

The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.

What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States,  is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken;  and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase.  But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.  

Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”

In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.

With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”,  is just the ticket from now to then.

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